A look round


How much improvement has taken place in working class home life (!) since Engels wrote “The Condition of the Working; Class in 1844”? Despite eighty years of capitalist reform every industrial area to-day contains its quagmire of slumdom. Our masters pretend horror, for they say the wicked Socialists would destroy that sanctified citadel of the humblest—the home. But lo ! what is this ?

“Five children, their mother and father, had been compelled to sleep in one room, so tiny that it would not hold a cot” (”Daily Chronicle,” 5-12-24).

A child was consequently smothered,s and at the inquest a neighbour said :

“In her home a girl of 20. a boy of 17, a boy of 13, and another child all slept in one room.”

In an appeal case (murder) at Warwick Assizes, defence drew the attention of the court to the appalling conditions under which the prisoner lived :—

“Three families lived in 3 rooms and X, his wife and 10 children occupied one room, 7 sleep¬ing in one bed” (“Evening News,” 8-12-24).

In one riding of Yorkshire 3,000 children have been excluded from the public elemen¬tary schools suffering from tuberculosis, admittedly due to overcrowding in the min¬ing district. (Manchester Guardian, 1-12-24). The Capitalists are quite aware that such conditions prevail, and have made them an asset for vote catching for years. In the first case cited the foreman of the jury considered a rider useless : as plenty of pressure had been put upon the authori¬ties for years without making any differ¬ence. Is there a remedy within the present system? Grant that your masters allow you to be better housed you will become more efficient workers, and eventually fewer of you will be needed to produce the limited wealth their markets can absorb. The years have proved that any attempt to alleviate your conditions in one direction often worsens them in another.

While Capitalism lasts your social suffer¬ing whatever its form is the necessary ac¬companiment of your slave existence, it must continue while you tolerate that sys¬ tem. There is nothing to choose between deterioration as a slum dweller, an un¬employed worker, or an employed one for that matter. Your choice must be between freedom or slavery.

A study of Socialism will teach you that it will be just as hellish to be sweated and robbed of life under a Labour administered Capitalism as under any Liberal or Tory inferno.

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According to the Democrat, 29-11-24, there are amongst us many who aver that British Imperialism is “grossly materialistic,” and embedded in a greed that is as callous as it is brutal. Of course it isn’t true; at least so says the writer. “Our” Empire, we are told, means lots of things, such as “the keeping together in happy union many millions of human beings,” and not forgetting our old friends “Honour and Justice.” We begin to sniff when we read : “that was one reason why the British Government were right in their firmness with Egypt,” but our lofty altruism comes a cropper when the same page informs us :

“The Sudan has become a great cotton-growing area, producing a raw material superior in quality to any other cotton grown in the wide world.”

And what a blow to those trusting souls of the I.L.P. and others, their peace preserving League of Nations “goes to pieces” at the first touch of reality :

“Any intervention, therefore, of the League invoked by Egypt will be unacceptable to His Majesty’s Government.” (Morning Post, 5-12-24).

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“The daily business of the worker is production of good articles for mankind to use. The Capitalist’s task is to provide the money, find the markets, organise the work, so as to spread the benefits all round” (Business Organisation, Dec.)

What a delightful world we live in—according to the Capitalist. For a jumble of concentrated cant, half truth, and deliberate falsehood, the above wants beating. No unemployment, no shoddy, adulterated commodities, no sad lives, the sole purpose of human existence is to enable our rulers to “spread the benefits all round.” And how, pray, are they spread vide one of their own apologists?

“When we realise that 38 out of our 43 millions are poor, the statement of Booth and Rowntree ceases to surprise us. In analysis the United Kingdom is seen to contain a great multitude of poor people veneered with a thin layer of the comfortable and rich (P43, Riches and Poverty. C. Money).

To-day it is the workers’ task to furnish the energy required to convert the earth’s resources to social means of living, including the making of the money with which they are paid, and the supervising and organising of such wealth production. Any child or imbecile possessed of wealth could play the part of landlord, shareholder, or dummy director, nor need you tax your brain capacity greatly to understand why they attempt to conceal the fact. When you do you will smile with contempt at the vapid inference that the Capitalist is a Capitalist for your benefit.

* * *


One of the traditional scares served up for the non-thinking worker is that of the immoral teaching of Socialism. We are not concerned with our masters farm-yard morality beyond exposing the humbug of their pious dread. Some people know that shop-lifting can be termed stealing or kleptomania, according to the social position of the individual concerned. In back numbers of the Socialist Standard we have shown that even the White Slave Traffic can be elevated to something less criminal and obnoxious when its patrons are wealthy and move in the best society (sic).

The debauchery of a ruling class has ever been a symptom of decadence from the orgies of the Roman Empire to the licentious escapades of our modern parasites, details of which their own Press often consider unfit for print. It is interesting to note the different tones adopted by our opponents in their attempts to discredit Socialism and that assumed when the “idealistic indiscretion” involves a six-figure gift for the use of another man’s wife. Socialism will allow both women and men the fullest access to the means of life. Under such conditions human affection unfettered by economic considerations need consider no other attraction than that which is mutual, thus removing the sordid and mercenary basis of sex relations to-day.


(Socialist Standard, January 1925)

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